Metal man (with a big heart) goes missing

Josh
Josh Pennell
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Thieves steal beloved neighbourhood figure

He’s seven feet tall, made of tubular aluminum and has an unqualified ability to make people smile. And while he’s not exactly easy booty to hide, he’s also on the missing list.

Anybody who has driven around the Topsail Pond area has probably spotted Tube Dude at the end of Mike Corcoran’s driveway. He greets whomever passes by with a smile and a wave. But his originality coupled with that nice personality of his has made Tube Dude something of a target for thieves. That’s why if you’re browsing the NL Classifieds website, you’ll find a listing posted by Corcoran offering a reward to anybody with information leading to Tube Dude’s return.

Corcoran picked up Tube Dude a couple of years ago while on vacation in Sarasota, Fla. The eye-catching figures were all over the place, Sarasota being where the Tube Dude business is based.

“The first time you see it, you look at it and laugh and you wonder, ‘What is it?’ And then the next time you see it you can’t help but smile,” says Corcoran.

Corcoran fell for the tubular figures so much that he asked the company if it would like to have a distributor in this province, and it said yes. So in addition to the one he got, several others were shipped up.

Since Corcoran set him up at the end of his driveway, Tube Dude has been a neighbourhood hit. Corcoran says all the local kids have their own names for him and he makes everybody who drives by smile.

Which is why everybody was so bummed that Tube Dude wasn’t there Friday when the neighbourhood kids — including Corcoran’s daughters — left in the morning to go to school.

“My daughter went out to the bus stop and she came running in the driveway — ‘He’s stolen, he’s stolen!’”

 

This isn’t the first time he’s disappeared, though. In May of last year, one of Corcoran’s daughters was getting ready for bed when she spotted would-be thieves at the end of their driveway trying to take Tube Dude for a ride. Corcoran jumped in his vehicle and caught up with them.

“Let’s just say you probably could have called me a madman when I confronted them,” he says.

At first they tried to deny that they had the seven-foot metal man sticking out the end of their hatchback, but eventually they admitted otherwise. Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment Corcoran got only half of the licence plate number.

And while his daughters did get their dear mascot back, a certain amount of innocence was lost in Tube Dude’s kidnapping. Corcoran says one of his daughters just couldn’t understand why anybody would steal from them.

“She really, really struggled with it,” he says. “To the point where she lost her faith in people.”

That first time, Tube Dude was no easy lift. Besides his impressive size, Corcoran had him double bolted down to concrete he had poured into the ground. When he got him back after that first robbery attempt, he bolted him again, but this time welded nuts in place so they couldn’t be unscrewed.

Still, the thieves managed, which makes Corcoran believe they had sized up the situation and knew the equipment they were going to need.

“This person came prepared.”

He figures they used a pipe wrench and applied pressure until the figure broke clean off its studs, behaviour that is most unTube Dude like.

“My kids are broken-hearted about it,” says Corcoran. “It’s meant to be a greeting to people. This guy is there and he’s waving his hand and smiling. And the caption for the company is ‘Keep smiling.’”

Since Corcoran posted the listing on NL Classifieds, he’s already had two people contact him just to say they drive by his Tube Dude all the time and are upset to hear he’s not there anymore. They also promised to spread the word and keep an eye out for him. There are only a couple of other Tube Dudes around and, being the distributor, Corcoran knows exactly where, so if his turns up anywhere on the island, he’ll have the crooks red handed.

While Tube Dude does seem to just go with the flow no matter who’s trying to bolt him down or lift him off, he doesn’t come cheap. Depending on the model, by the time the shipping and handling is paid on the $1,500-plus-tax price tag, Tube Dude will run an individual more than $2,000.

Corcoran has reported the theft to the police. As well as the Crime Stoppers reward that could come with information that leads to Tube Dude’s return, Corcoran says he’ll offer a personal reward to anybody who helps bring Tube Dude home, although he’s keeping just what that reward will be under his hat for the moment.

Anybody who knows of Tube Dude’s whereabouts can call Mike Corcoran at 781-0322.

 

josh.pennell@thetelegram.com

 

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  • Ken O'Brien
    June 13, 2013 - 05:20

    Tube Dude is great! We came across it while showing around some Australian friends last year. Hopefully the thieves are caught.